How Much Does It Cost to Clear Land?

Typical Range:

$1,271 - $5,104

Find out how much your project will cost.

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 1,295 HomeAdvisor members. Embed this data

How We Get This Data

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  • Homeowners use HomeAdvisor to find pros for home projects.
  • When their projects are done, they fill out a short cost survey.
  • We compile the data and report costs back to you.

Updated May 16, 2022

Reviewed by Cati O'Keefe, Expert Home Building & Sustainability Contributor.

Written by HomeAdvisor.

Clearing land and preparing a construction site will cost about $3,186, or between $1,271 and $5,104. This project averages $1.30 to $2 per square foot or $250 to $1,000 per acre. Clearing heavily forested land may raise the price up to three times more.

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National Average $3,186
Typical Range $1,271 - $5,104
Low End - High End $400 - $12,000

Cost data is based on actual project costs as reported by 1,295 HomeAdvisor members.

Average Cost of Clearing Land by Lot Size

These prices don’t include structure demolition, topsoil stripping, excavation, hauling dirt to a landfill, grading, and other tasks necessary to create a finished lot. The amount you will pay depends on the site’s topography and how much vegetation grows there, with forested lots costing far more than sites with shrubs and grasses.

Cost of Clearing a Forested or Wooded Lot

Costs vary depending on how heavily the land is wooded. Below are average cost breakdowns. For a single tree clearing cost, you can expect to pay an average of $700, and an average of $345 for individual tree stump removal costs. However, that cost may vary based on the size of the tree, along with its condition, location, and diameter. You will pay between $75 and $150 to remove fallen trees.

Acreage Lightly Wooded Lots Heavily Forested Land
⅕ acre $100 – $499 $600 – $1,120
¼ acre $125 – $500 $750 – $1,400
½ acre $250 – $1,000 $1,500 – $2,800
1 acre $500 – $2,000 $3,000 – $5,600
2 acres $1,000 – $4,000 $6,000 – $11,200

Forestry Mulching Prices

Forestry mulching is using heavy equipment to cut trees and brush flush to the ground and mulching the material as it is taken down. If you go this route, you will end up with a healthy layer of mulch on your ground, and you won’t have to pay as much for debris removal.

Acreage Cost Range
⅕ acre $80 – $120
¼ acre $100 – $150
½ acre $200 – $300
1 acre $400 – $600
2 acres $800 – $1,200

Brush Removal Cost

You pay less to clear underbrush than to remove trees, thanks to the fact that the above- and below-surface area is significantly less cumbersome to remove. You will pay between $100 and $200 for up to one acre to clear the land of plants, shrubs, and smaller-scale overgrowth.

If you decide to do some of the clearing work on your property yourself, you can tackle the brush and fallen branches and logs and leave the tree work to the professionals. You can source the needed pruning and cutting tools for around $100 to $200. You should factor debris removal into your budget, which can run anywhere from $100 to $800.

You can get simple yard cleanup by using a landscaping company for $200 to $1,200.

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Land Clearing Cost Factors

In addition to the general costs involved in clearing land, when preparing a construction site, a number of additional factors can play into the equation as well. 

Lot Clearing, Grading, or Leveling

Typical land clearance prices don’t include grading and leveling. "If you are building on a hillside, be advised: Your site preparation bid may include line items for topsoil stripping, excavation, and export. These are for excavating dirt from the hillside and trucking it to a clean-fill dumpsite. This process can add a surprising amount of expense to your project," says Cati O'Keefe, Expert Home Building & Sustainability Contributor.

It costs anywhere from $500 to $7,700 for clearing, grading, and leveling. If your site is level and grassy, you’ll be on the low end. If you have a heavily timbered parcel, bank on the higher side.

Commonly, you will see "lot clearing" and "grading or leveling" as line items on your preparation and excavation bid. These tasks usually include grubbing and refer to removing all timber, bushes, debris, rocks, and using heavy machinery to sculpt the existing soil into a buildable site.

Preparation & Excavation

Again, land clearance costs don’t include preparation services. Expect to pay about $1.30 to $2 a square foot to prepare land for a build. If your site requires excavation, keep in mind that excavation costs between $1,500 and $5,100. Most companies charge $40 to $150 per hour.

Permits

You could be subject to restrictions that require extra consideration. The cost of a permit for land clearing can be as much as $200 on its own.

Land Surveys

Getting a land survey ensures you know your lot's boundary lines and other legal restrictions or easements. The average land survey cost is $500.

Demolition

If there’s an existing structure on your land, you might need to arrange its demolition and removal. Average house demolition costs range from $4 and $15 per square foot or $3,000 to $25,000 in total.

Erosion Control

You may need to take extra precautionary measures when dealing with areas prone to soil erosion. Other costs could include planting additional ground cover, compacting the area, or hiring a landscaper near you (if you can’t do it yourself) to regularly irrigate the area until any construction begins.

Cost to Develop Land for Building a House

Land development costs about $1.30 to $2 a square foot. To get an accurate cost, you must first understand exactly what you need to do. In most cases, you would need to get prices for the following:

  • Contract for site and grading plans from a civil engineer: $350–$3,000. This will include a survey, drainage plans, erosion prevention, and utility/septic location mapping.

  • Pull a building permit: $400–$2,300. Contact your local building department for accurate permit cost.

  • Conduct geotechnical or soil testing: $800–$1,800. Your city or county may require this work.

  • Remove structures: Demolishing existing structures costs an average of $4–$15 per square foot.

  • Excavate the foundation or basement: The cost to dig a basement is $10–$20 per square foot. It’s often cost-effective to have the basement excavated as soon as the land is cleared and graded. Your builder will determine this based on the permit and build schedule.

  • Install utilities: Many electric utilities and cable companies will pull cable to homes for free, but you may have to pay if your site is far away from public utilities. Homeowners generally must pay for water and sewer lines.

Cost to Clear Land for Other Uses

Clearing land for uses other than building a house generally costs about the same: $1.30 to $2 per square foot. Be sure to ask your pro if they charge a minimum rate for smaller projects to avoid a surprise.

  • Mobile Home: $650–$2,400 for a single-wide or $1,300–$4,000 for a double-wide. The process is generally the same as clearing land for a stick-built home.

  • Driveway: $850–$1,300 for a typical 640-square-foot driveway. If the driveway is longer than usual or passes through dense woods, you may pay $4,000 or more.

  • Overgrown Fence Lines: $200–$1,200, depending on the thickness of the plant growth. If trees or sturdy bushes have entwined themselves with the fence, you will probably pay on the high range for this service.

  • Decks, Porches, or Patios: $200–$1,200. If the area is wooded, the rule of thumb is that it will cost an average of $700 per tree for removal.

  • Hardscaping or Landscaping: Prices vary. Preparing land for hardscaping and landscaping costs the same $1.30–$2 per square foot, but total project costs depend on the size of walkways, lawns, gardens, and other features you want to install. 

FAQs

How much does it cost to clear my own land?

If you decide to do it yourself, you can rent heavy equipment for approximately $200 to $500 a day. You can get better pricing if you rent equipment by the month, with equipment running about $2,000 to $11,000

How long does it take to clear an acre of land?

As a general rule, a professional takes approximately two-and-a-half hours to clear an acre of land. They might take longer for heavily wooded sites, sites with low-lying wet areas, or if other obstructions exist (such as outbuildings or homes).

How much does pasture clearing cost?

If you are clearing debris from your land to create a pasture, it will cost between $400 and $600 per acre for forestry mulching and approximately $500 to $5,600 per acre for conventional land clearing. Here are points to consider when deciding between the two:

  • Forestry Mulching: This process leaves organic material in the soil and helps new ground cover take root and thrive.

  • Conventional Clearing: You may lose valuable topsoil. 

How can I get land cleared for free?

It’s unlikely you’ll be able to get your land cleared professionally for free. Doing most of the work yourself can offer big savings. However, tackling a large lot clearance yourself may be too technical or time-consuming.

If you have a large, heavily forested area to clear, one way you might be able to save yourself some money is to find a professional logging company or firewood seller that may pay you for the timber they remove. You can then put this money towards having the stumps they leave behind removed (stump removal is less costly than entire tree removal).

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